Help for the Handicapped: The search for a weak chess program

1/30/2004 – The quest to create the strongest computer chessplayer continues, but creating a weak opponent may be more important. All the top programs can crush you, but can they give you a fair and fun fight? Mig's latest ChessBase Cafe column looks at the sophisticated handicap features in Fritz and friends. Send in your own questions for next month's column. See the index.

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Help for the Handicapped

Mig Greengard writes a monthly column on getting the most from your ChessBase software. It includes tutorials and an essential Q&A section where you can send in your questions. Called "ChessBase Cafe" it appears at the ChessCafe.com website. The latest column always appears at this link: http://www.chesscafe.com/mig/mig.htm.

This month it looks at the handicap levels in the Fritz programs. Do you want to play an attacker or a defensive player? Someone to test your pawn play or your mating skills? You can also send in your questions, after reading the columns to make sure it hasn't already been answered, of course.

All the ChessBase Cafe columns are saved in Adobe Acrobat format in the ChessCafe archives. For your convenience we've listed all of them below with direct links to the archived versions. (You'll need the Adobe Reader to read these documents. It may already be installed on your computer.)

#9, January, 2004. Help for the Handicapped. When commercial chess programs got strong the quest to make them weak started. Training tips and suggestions for how to best use the handicap levels in Fritz and friends programs. Tweaking the personality of the machine to get more "human" play. Q&A on auto-annotation, endgame DVDs, and automatically saved games.
#8, December, 2003. Something New, Something Improved. Breakdown and differences between new ChessBase products. MegaBase, Encyclopedia, PowerBook. Many of the questions I receive start with “what’s the difference between…” but even explaining the exact differences doesn’t really tell inexperienced users what would best suit their needs. I just received a pile of new products and what follows is a combination buyer’s guide and tutorial for the latest and greatest. Remember, it’s never too late to give yourself a Christmas present!
#7, November, 2003. In Playchess.com, No One Can Hear You Scream. Tips and tutorial for improving your chess with online play. Analzying your games, statistics, and game data. Playchess has turned into one of the most active online gaming sites in the world with over 100,000 games played per day. You can even watch GMs like Adams, Short, Susan Polgar, and Nakamura battle it out. (Some will even play YOU.) Fancy stuff like audio/video broadcasts and anti-cheating algorithms add to the cool factor.
#6, October, 2003. Q&A Marathon: Advanced Tips and Problems. It’s all about the readers this month. I’ve been saving (hiding from) the really tough questions that have come in so this time I’m tackling a few of the mind-bending inquiries that have arrived over the past few months. As always, I try to pick questions that have been sent in by several people and/or will be useful for all readers.
#5, September, 2003. Training by Becoming a Tournament Organizer with Fritz. Our project this month is getting personalized opening training material from Fritz using the Tournament function. It can be very helpful to have sample games between strong opponents to study the openings. The best way to get a feel for an opening is to go over complete games. Basically what we are going to do is have our mighty engines play a thematic tournament amongst themselves.
#4, August, 2003. Better than Books: ChessBase Training CDs. Most people buy chess books in a sincere attempt to improve the quality of their play. Instructional books make up the huge majority of books offered and purchased, but the problem is how inefficient they are for a majority of readers. ChessBase produces enhanced chess books in CD-ROM format. A sampling and how to use them.
#3, July, 2003. Quick Opening Preparation for Mortals. The study masters do before and during tournaments largely revolves around preparing for specific opponents. So let’s look at how mere mortals can use ChessBase to brush up on a few openings before a tournament or a game. Create custom opening books from databases in minutes using the book and repertoire functions.
#2, June, 2003. The Fritz Fairy Analyzes and Annotates While You Sleep. Chess isn't all that hard – when you have a slave to do all the tedious stuff for you. In his Chess Cafe column Mig Greengard tells you exactly how to give Fritz the job of analyzing your games, checking for blunders and writing annotations in plain English. He also answers email and answers your questions.
#1, May, 2003. Inside Output: Publishing with Fritz and Friends. In the first installment of ChessBase Cafe Mig tells us about automatic HTML and diagram output with ChessBase 8, with lots of useful links and tips. Put games online or in print, make diagrams that look just the way you want, and export ready-to-publish HTML and word processor documents.


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